This week I finally met my local MP for the first time. If I’d been on the ball I’d even have got a photo to prove it, but it’s just as well I didn’t as I was having an ill day, so I would have simply looked sick and sweaty next to him. Instead here’s some concept art you can pretend symbolises politics and science.
The reason I was meeting him was an interview for the Evidence Information Service. I first heard of this back in March and thought I ought to do something about it. The idea is that while the civil service and parliamentary researchers can do a good job, they’re not experts on everything. It wouldn’t be sane to expect them to be. The Evidence Information Service is a proposal that there could be a system to provide MPs with expert advice on topics. The first step for such a service would be working out what MPs want and what they could use.
This is where you and I come in.
The EIS is looking for local champions to interview their MPs (and AMs if you live in Wales). There’s a questionnaire to see what it is that MPs are looking for. They already have plenty of people lining up to give them information. Is there a way that scientists can contribute more signal than noise?
This obviously isn’t March. I was busy at the time and things like this tend to get put off into the to-do list and then forgotten as more stuff gets added. The spur to sign up and get it done came via Kevin Folta. In particular the first image in this post.
It’s not reasonable to assume MPs and AMs will pick up my disapproval of poor science through some kind of psychic osmosis. There are many reasons why fringe ideas might get pushed. Sincere belief and misunderstanding is one. Another reason might be economic interest. Taking a small step to counter-balance this seemed more productive to me than putting an X in a box every five years, as a political action.
As it happens it was a reasonably painless exercise. The EIS provided a basic questionnaire, and Roger Williams made time for me at the local constituency office. As it happens Brecon and Radnorshire is the largest constituency outside Scotland in the UK, so local was a bit farther for me that it might be for you, but it was simple enough.
I can’t say what he said, as the results are going to be anonymised. But I did find him and his office very open and helpful. It’s a reminder of what a bad advert for MPs the House of Commons is. I certainly learned some things about how Politics works that made my head spin.
If you are keen for better science in politics, then it’s worth checking out the EIS welcome letter and seeing if you live in a constituency without a local champion. If mysticism in Westminster makes you grumpy, then you can at least be satisfied you’ve done your bit.